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Underage 21 Alcohol Consumption

The offense of "operating a vehicle after underage alcohol consumption ("OVUAC") under RC 4511.19(B) applies only to people under the age of 21 years old.  The legal limit for OVUAC is much lower than for other OVI offenses. The penalties for OVUAC are also lower except when it comes to the license suspension and driving privileges. For OVUAC the proscribed levels include:

  • Breath ≥ 02g < .08g;
  • Whole Blood ≥ .02% < .08%;
  • Blood Serum or Plasma ≥ .03% < .096%; or
  • Urine ≥ .028g < .11g.

When an officer stops a person under 21 for a driving offense and smells alcohol on their breath, the officers in Cincinnati, Ohio, will not hesitate to charge the driver with "Underage Alcohol Consumption" in ORC Section 4511.19(B)(3). OVUAC can be charged even when the officer does not suspect any impairment present in a typical OVI. The offense occurs when a completed breath test reveals the juvenile has a BAC of .02 to less than .08, and probable cause does not exist for the ORC Section 4511.19(A)(1)(a) offense of OVI. 

In other cases, the officer will simply arrest the young person for being impaired by alcohol or having a BAC over .08. If you were charged with any OVI or OVUAC offense then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Joslyn Law Firm. Call to discuss your case today.

Operation a Vehicle after Underage Consumption (OVUAC)

Any driver under the age of 21 is subject to lower prescribed chemical breath levels, that range from .02% to less than .08%. If the underage driver submits to a test within that range can be charged with a criminal offense for operating a vehicle after underage consumption (often called OVUAC).

The underage driver is NOT subject to an ALS suspension if he or she submits to a chemical test and the tests indicate a level less than .08% BAC or below any of the other per se levels listed in R.C. §4511.19(A).

If the driver is driver is under the age of 21 and refuses the chemical test, the young person is subject to an ALS suspension for refusal, and the same procedures for refusal and completion of the BMV 2255 will be followed.

The the driver is under the age of 21 and tests .08% BAC or above any of the "per se" concentrations listed in R.C. §4511.19(A), then the driver is subject to an ALS suspension for a positive chemical test, and the same procedures for positive test and completion of the BMV 2255 will be followed.

ORC Section 4511.19(B)(3) for "Underage Alcohol Consumption"

Anyone under 21 years old is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of between .02 and .08 of the breath or whole blood. See R.C. 4511.19(B). A different probably cause determination occurs in these cases because impairment is not the issue. See State v. Stidham, 3rd Dist. No. 8-97-34, *5-6 (1998).

If an officer suspects that a person under 21 has driven after consuming any amount of alcoholic beverages, then the officer can request that the person submit to a breath test. The request can be made even if the officer does not have probable cause that the driver is under the influence or OVI. If the young person refuses testing or blows over a .02 but under a .08, then the officer can administratively suspended the person's driver's license but will not make an arrest for OVI.

An ALS is completed for underage consumption but will not be processed unless the chemical test is refused. If the young person accused of underage consumption refuses a chemical test, then he or she will be charged under 4301.69 on a Notice to Appear (NTA). The “Description of Offense” will read:

“No underage person shall knowingly order, pay for, share the cost of, attempt to purchase, or consume any beer or intoxicating liquor in any public or private place.” The young person will be told that he or she is under an immediate Administrative License Suspension (ALS).

Underage Consumption with Impairment

If the officer believes that the person is under the influence, then the officer can make an arrest for OVI which also triggers an administrative suspension. The arresting officer will complete a Form BMV-2255, ALS for each Underage Consumption arrest.

Under these circumstances, a juvenile OVI offender is processed the same as an adult when probable cause exists for ORC Section 4511.19(A) if the BAC is .08 or more. If BAC is .08 but below .170 the arresting officer will charge the juvenile with ORC Sections 4511.19(A)(1)(a) and 4511.19(A)(1)(d) on the MUTT (see Section B.1.) The officer will name the "Description of Offense" as ORC Sections 4511.19(A)(1)(a) and 4511.19(A)(1)(d) (which is the same wording as used for an adult).

If BAC is at .170 or above, the arresting officer will charge the juvenile with ORC Sections 4511.19(A)(1)(a) and 4511.19(A)(1)(h) (which is the same wording as used for an adult).

If probable cause exists that the juvenile is under the influence but refuses any chemical test, then the juvenile will be charged with ORC Section

The juvenile's court appearance will usually be set within five days after the arrest (or the next business day) at 1430 hours in Juvenile Court, Broadway Building, 800 Broadway.

Finding an Attorney for an Young Person Charged with OVUAC

If you are under 21 years old and you were accused of driving after consuming alcohol or drugs, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Joslyn Law Firm. We represent clients charged with drunk or impaired driving throughout Hamilton County, Ohio, and the surrounding areas.

Call us to find out the procedures used by law enforcement agencies in Hamilton County, OH, for charging underage drivers who consume drugs or alcohol. Those agencies can include the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, Cincinnati Police Department, and Ohio State Highway Patrol. We understand how the Hamilton County OVI Task Force influences OVI investigations and the administration of sobriety checkpoints and roadblocks.

Call (513) 399-6289 to talk to an experienced OVI defense attorney in Cincinnati, OH, today.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, November 17, 2015.